This was my husband's and my first trip to Costa Rica (or anywhere tropical). It was my bucket-list trip - I felt I needed to experience tropical nature at some point in my life and living in Alberta all my life meant that Costa Rica might best be described as a fantasy. Research about the country, the lodge and the area got me part way there, but it was nothing compared to actually being in this unique rain forest, smelling, feeling, tasting, hearing. I am a science writer and my husband is a science teacher so we meant to come here to explore the plant and animal life and hopefully write about it and make lessons for kids. Wildlife here does not disappoint. It is exuberant, joyous and loud in both colour and sound. I saw predator and prey and learned about intricate secretive relationships from the expert staff here, but I was most struck by how much the animals were exploring, goofing around, sleeping and talking day after day. As someone who has seen some of these exotic animals only in zoos or, God forbid, pet stores, witnessing them living how they are supposed to live moved me deeply. I did not expect to be taken in on such a deep level. It felt as if a giant part of my brain very suddenly decided it could finally sleep while another deeper part of me woke up and, how do I put this, started drinking.
Mother Nature is powerful here, she is hitting all the chords. The unique design of the place with rooms set open to everything going on around you means that all the wildlife and plant life connects to you in a way that feels simultaneously profound and familiar. Here, you are encouraged to let go. You only need to come in for mealtime and the rest of the time you get to play. Long forgotten childhood memories of playing on my parent's and grandparent's farms kept popping into my head. On the waterfall hike with Gustavo and my hubby I felt like we were all about 15 and he was showing us his favourite secret spot. You are IN the waterfall after all! Later, with Daniel, the assistant manager, I was gently coaxed to not to be afraid of the slim constrictor snake that they had brought inside for all of us to see, and I think he could sense how much I was drinking in. Molly, the young yoga instructor, allowed me to take in both a soothing massage and challenging yoga on the beautiful open-to-the-ocean deck.
The open cabins are meant to maximize your experience and I highly recommend them even if you are a little afraid at first. Don't be. The food is beautifully prepared and I don't think it is possible to eat healthier. I got to try mahi mahi for the first time, prepared several different ways. Fish so fresh is a rare treat to a land-locked Albertan! I loved how our bar tender let us be guinea pigs and try out a bunch of new delicious concoctions. My husband showed me how to snorkel and together we saw countless jewel-like fish both just offshore and around one of the bends, along with eels and a turtle I could almost touch. And I learned how to kayak (but I still paddled it like a canoe).
Eating meals is like our Canadian kitchen parties. You start out strangers and end up fast buddies. We learned from the guides and staff that Playa Nicuesa was once a banana farm before they got diseased and then a cocao farm before they too caught a highly transmittable fungus (the original abandoned farmhouse is now home to fruit bats and a puma that likes to come around). Because farming did not work out, people are forced to either move away or learn to make a living from fishing. Golfito, nearby, has that feel of a struggling town in transition. But Costa Ricans are powerfully resilient and savvy problem-solvers, to all of our benefit. It clicked here for me: how small the world really is.
If you come, I suspect your experience will be unique to you but I can almost guarantee it will be moving. I suggest a reusable water bottle, good sunscreen, hikers and water shoes, simple clothing that dries fast. Forget makeup, lotions, hair styling things - all that stuff is so unnecessary here.
Thank you so much to all the wonderful staff for welcoming us to this special place!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Playa Nicuesa is an environmentally-friendly eco-lodge set on a 165-acre private rainforest preserve on the undeveloped Pacific Coast of Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. Our jungle & sea location provides a unique adventure and nature vacation: the front yard is a gulf right off the Pacific Ocean, and the backyard consists of thousands of acres of pristine tropical rainforest. Overall, the experience embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Hotel Golfito
- Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Golfito
- Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Costa Rica/Golfito